Terminator Salvation: We Won’t Be Back

Technophobic predictions, the Terminator movies sell tickets by promising this decade's model of killing machine: the classic V8 1984 Schwarzenegger; the bullet-streamlined, liquid-metal '91 Robert Patrick of T2: Judgment Day; Kristanna Loken's 2003 T-X (with burgundy pleather upholstery). Terminator Salvation, a departure in many ways, is the first Terminator with no upgrade: The hardware is clanky and runs on diesel. Schwarzenegger is present only as a CGI mask. The franchise's creation myth—the toppling of humanity by Skynet computers—has finally come to pass. It's 2018—time enough, apparently, for survivors to start dressing like drum-circle squatters. Christian Bale's John Connor is a maverick officer in the human Resistance. Sam Worthington's Marcus Wright, last he remembers, donated his body to Cyberdyne before a lethal injection. He wakes to a blasted Philip K. Dick wasteland. To hear director McG tell it, this is nothing less than Terminator Salvage, a mission to "re-establish credibility" (aka consumer confidence). McG is stripping down, getting "dark." He's stricken color from the screen and book-clubbed his cast with copies of The Road. Change was inevitable. But among the many things junked in McG's chop shop is the notion of pleasure, as Wright and Connor trek to strike at Skynet's Silicon Valley nerve center, which looks to be somewhere between Mordor and the Port of Houston.

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